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LIBERTY TWP., Ohio – Holding on tight, 16-year-old Mitchell Simon cried in his mother’s arms Tuesday after hearing he would be tried as an adult.
Just last month, police say the Liberty Township teen tied a rope around the doorknob of her bedroom door so she and his father couldn’t escape when he set their house on fire.
Simon is charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson.
Despite these charges, his foster mother grabbed Simon back and held him as he wept in court.
The courtroom reunion of the teen with his tearful mother and his father, whose legs were injured when he jumped from the second floor of the family’s burning home, marked a stark contrast with the teen Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones accuses of concocting a "cold, calculated plot."
Investigators say they found records and journals written by the teen depicting how he was going to set fire to the home. The journal included information on how he would tie the door shut to his parents' bedroom so they couldn't escape.
The incident happened at about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the family’s home in the 7100 block of Tarragon Court, according to police.
Investigators said they found the 50-year-old father of the Lakota West High School student outside of the home after he jumped from a second-story window.
Liberty Township fire crews rescued the suspect's 56-year-old mother from her second-story bedroom.
Both were taken to West Chester Medical Center. Simon’s father suffered a broken leg and his mother received treatment and was released after suffering minor injuries, according to police.
After investigators spoke with Simon, he was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson.
During Tuesday’s hearing, prosecutors revealed photos of Simon’s journal with the written statements about his plans.
Ron Owens, the detective in the case, said Simon initially said he planned to commit suicide the night of the fire -- but his story would soon change.
"By the end of the interview, Mitchell had admitted that his intent that evening was to inflict as much bodily harm on his parents as possible without injuring himself," Owens said.
Simon’s lawyer Brad Kraemer argued Tuesday that his client has mental health issues and shouldn’t be tried as an adult.
"We've lost sight of the fact that this is a kid who has some mental health issues that need to be addressed,” Kraemer said while defending Simon to a judge. “I understand that your hands are tied in terms of probable cause, but I only hope that this case comes back here so that this kid can get the help that he needs because being in adult court is the last place this kid needs to be."
WCPO spoke with a Lakota West teacher and a classmate of Simon’s.
The teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, described him as a "straight 'A' student" who is taking advanced placement psychology, honors physics and honors pre-calculus.
Lakota West student Dominique Lewis said Simon wasn’t isolated at school.
"He seems like he was a good guy, he didn't talk a lot a lot but when I talk to him he seemed like he was good.” Lewis said. “I wasn't expecting anything bad out of him.”
A grand jury will now have to decide whether Simon will be indicted on the murder charges against him.
If he is only indicted on the lesser charge of aggravated arson, he will go back to juvenile court.
It has not been determined when Simon’s case will move to the grand jury.
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